Making buildings smarter for a sustainable future
As debate rages across the globe on how to best reduce the environmental impact we have upon the planet, a community of building designers and system integrators are using smart building technologies today, to prepare our cities for a sustainable tomorrow.
“The overall summary of any [building] management control is to collect data and see where we can refine energy bills,” said David Ashworth, State Manager for mySmart, a national systems integration company.
mySmart recently developed a building management system — built on a hardware and software solution of Schneider Electric products — for a new engineering annexe on the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. The new system leverages automation to monitor and control heating and air conditioning, and lighting conditions in laboratories.
In the same way that the human body has nerve endings and neurons to detect changes in physical conditions and distribute physiological resources accordingly, a smart building comprises a number of networked sensors and systems that monitor resource usage. When collated and presented as an accurate snapshot of the building’s condition, facility managers can better manage building resources to reduce waste.
“For a commercial development, obviously, you have energy metering,” said Ashworth. “You have HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), mechanical services, and pulse counters for gas and water.
“When all this information is displayed for a facilities manager, it gives them better knowledge of what the systems within the building are doing. Then, with the trend information they’re getting, they can do things like heat mapping [of occupancy] and utilise spaces better.”
When you incorporate automation programmed to respond to the collected data, a smart building can then assess the building condition and automate the distribution of services — like HVAC or lighting in active work spaces.
This is the concept at the heart of a cutting-edge education facility in New South Wales: the Lindfield Learning Village. Across various campus buildings — including sports, science and engineering, theatre and hospitality facilities — smart building solutions have been implemented to improve both student experience and campus-wide energy efficiency.
“The first thing is visibility,” said Bartek Kacperski, Managing Director of EC Controls. “We want to be monitoring all utilities and put that information in front of someone, and give them the visibility of how much power, or water, or gas they’re using.
“With Schneider's product we’re able to give them simple visibility of the data coming in; and from there, because of all the functionality behind the scenes, they’re able to see changes they can make to save on consumption.”
Built upon the Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Building Operations system, the facilities at Lindfield Learning Village have transformed the former site of the University of Technology into a truly smart campus.
For many of the projects undertaken by systems integrators like Ashworth and Kacperski — both endorsed to deliver Schneider Electric technologies through the company’s professional training and certification program, EcoXpert — this will be the goal; to leverage cutting-edge hardware and software to improve the sustainability of buildings old and new.
A future-ready aspect of the products Kacperski works with is the open nature of system protocols, allowing integration with third-party systems and even products not yet created. With the life of these systems measured in decades rather than years, today’s smart buildings are equipped to meet the sustainability goals of tomorrow.
“There is no limit,” said Kacperski. “With EcoStruxure we can expand and add things into one seamless platform, rather than have multiple systems where [users] log into different computers and different headends to get information.
“The main focus was to use the most up-to-date IoT [Internet of Things] technology on the campus, which allows for expansion of the technology for the next 10–20 years. They can even expand to a different campus, in a different area, in the comfort that the system is expandable.”
Across many levels of enterprise — including health care, agriculture, manufacturing and retail — many businesses moving towards a zero-emissions operating model are now looking to future-ready buildings in such a way.
For one of Australia’s largest supermarket chains, improving the sustainability of operations now and into the future was a key requirement when approaching a recent build.
“As Australia’s largest retailer, we recognise the environmental impact of our operations and understand we have a responsibility to lead in this space,” said Andrew Hall, Woolworths Victorian State Manager. The company recently finished work on a new concept store, led by LJ Services (a Schneider Electric Master EcoXpert), which reduces energy usage as well as the bottom line.
“In recent years we’ve been working to run our stores more sustainably by investing in a range of initiatives to optimise our energy use. These efforts not only reduce our environmental footprint, but also help us keep operating costs down.”
To realise these goals, LJ Services utilised the visibility and resource management offered by EcoStruxture to address the largest consumer of energy in the building: air conditioning.
“The single largest user of energy is the HVAC system, which is where EcoStruxure can minimise usage,” said Greg Murphy, Senior Project Manager at LJ Services.
“By comparing data on external conditions versus internal conditions, we can better manage the environment inside at a comfortable level. This means building managers are only using power on services that are needed.
“The HMI [human–machine interface] of EcoStruxure lets you see all this information graphically. FMs can then export it to run trend reports, so they can create snapshots of short- and long-term usage to then implement changes as needed — whether that be seasonal based, time or activity based.”
With the help of smart digital infrastructure, drawn from decades of intelligent design and application across a variety of industries, EcoXperts like the teams at LJ Services, mySmart and EC Controls are here to ensure we can all look forward to a greener future.
For more information on Schneider Electric’s EcoXpert program, and to find an EcoXpert near you, visit www.se.com/au/ecoxpert.
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